Since July 4, 17 of Great Neck’s best Jewish athletes have been competing in the Maccabiah Games in Israel. The third-largest sporting event in the world brought 10,000 athletes from 80 countries to Israel to compete in high-level athletic competitions. As the games drew to a close, congratulations were in order to all of the athletes for a terrific two weeks of competition.
Between the juniors, masters and open divisions, the United States finished with the second-highest number of medals in the entire competition, trailing only to host Israel. Team USA earned 68 at the junior level with 17 gold, 18 silver and 33 bronze; 48 at the masters level with 10 gold, 15 silver and 23 bronze; and 118 at the open level with 34 gold, 46 silver and 38 bronze.
Three Great Neck athletes won gold medals. Alec Rovitz scored a goal as he helped the junior boys’ ice hockey team to their championship over Canada. Joshua Haberman assisted the open soccer team as it captured gold against Great Britain. And, Ariella Lerner helped the junior girls’ lacrosse team win a gold medal with a hat trick in a preliminary game against Israel.
Seven of our Great Neck athletes will be returning with silver medals. Aliza Abramson finished second in the open karate competition, defeating Israel’s Revital Soroker. Jamie Behar helped her junior girls’ basketball team to a silver medal, scoring an average of 11.4 points per game. Josh Packer and Corey Rutkin were both a part of Team USA’s silver-medal winning golf team. Packer finished 20th overall and Rutkin finished higher at 12th. The juniors’ female golf team also won a silver medal with our own Jennifer Rosenberg a part of it. Jonathan Lazarus and the open men’s ice hockey team fell to Canada in the finals, but had an excellent tournament nonetheless, blowing out all of their other opponents. Lazarus chipped in with a goal. Jessica Schrek and the open women’s soccer team will also be returning with silver medals. Schrek scored two goals in a game against Great Britain.
No bronze medals will be coming to Great Neck in the coming days, but there are more exciting performances worth noting. Hayley Flyer competed valiantly in open fencing, as did Dr. Paul Wright in judo. A few years younger than them, Marc Ziarno and the junior boys’ soccer team finished seventh overall. Their placing is deceiving, however, as they finished with a record of 1-1-1 through preliminary play.
Golfer David Blatte finished a respectable 29th of 40 in masters’ competition. Camryn Lessing, Leanne Hope and the junior girls’ beach volleyball team fell just short of a medal, finishing fourth. Additionally, Andrew Fisher finished 88th of 135 in the 21-kilometer cycling race.
It’s amazing to see how much time and devotion the athletes put into this competition. While some of our competitors returned home with the ultimate prize, all of the participants had the extraordinary opportunity to compete on one of the world’s largest stages at a professional level.
The experience also offered the athletes a chance to strengthen their Jewish identities. Team USA’s Israel Connect program was mandatory for most athletes and it took them to many Jewish heritage sites across the country. The athletes were able to experience these sites along with their teammates, allowing them to gel before the competition began, which accounts for Team USA’s high medal totals. The past two weeks offered a fun and meaningful experience for all who attended, and Team USA will soon be preparing to do it again in 2021.
Read more about the athletes in upcoming issues.